It has been a long time coming, this Volkswagen Passat. More specifically the latest MQB-based Passat B8, which was actually previewed here nearly two years ago.
Following the preview, the Passat was first spied in Malaysia in June 2015. Subsequently, the Passat B8 was spied a couple of times earlier this year. That only meant that the official debut was just around the corner.
Come 16 November, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) will officiate the new Passat B8. Members of the media had the opportunity to sample the all-new Passat B8 a couple of weeks ahead of its official debut on the scenic island of Langkawi.
For the purpose of this first impressions article, I will be focusing solely on the range-topping Highline. VPCM says that the entry-level Trendline will be unveiled during the launch itself.
To simplify things, the Volkswagen Passat will now be available in three trim levels, with two engine choices. Both the Trendline and Comfortline will soldier on with the outgoing model’s 1.8-litre TSI engine that pushes out 180 PS and 250 Nm, mated to a 7-speed dry-clutch DSG (DQ200). Moving up nets you the Passat Highline, powered by a 2.0-litre TSI engine that outputs a healthy 220 PS and 350 Nm, mated to a 6-speed wet clutch DSG (DQ250).
Right off the bat, if the figures are familiar, you’re not wrong. In a nutshell, the powertrain combination in the Passat Highline is identical as the Golf GTI, save for various improvements plus different gear ratios. This allows the Passat Highline to be one of the most unassuming yet quickest D-segment sedans I’ve personally tested.
Given the beans, the top-of-the-line Passat is capable of breaking traction even on dry surfaces with the traction control (TC) light flashing furiously, much to my amusement. In gear acceleration is also strong, and when coupled with the 6-speed DSG, shifts are rapid yet smooth. Manual mode via the paddle shifters and gear lever is available too, for drivers that want to get every single pony out of the engine.
On top of the Golf GTI-derived engine, the Passat Highline also carries with it Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). DCC comprises of drive mode selection (Sport, Normal, Eco, Comfort & Individual) that works in tandem with the active damping system and steering system. For example, when Sport mode is selected, gear shifts are held longer, while dampers are stiffened with a heavier steering in tow.
Of course, being a Volkswagen, driveability and body control is worth a mention. In short, the latest generation Passat B8 does not disappoint. By utilizing Volkswagen’s MQB platform, the B8 weighs about 70 kg lighter than the model it replaces, allowing the successor to be far more agile. Our test route did include a stretch of windy uphill roads, which the Passat tackled with ease.
Turn in, the front end of the Passat follows your steering inputs eagerly, with its tail ever willing to comply. This behaviour meant that the Passat drives like a smaller car than it actually is. In fact, thanks to firm shocks all round, pitch and yaw was not all that noticeable, only when the Passat was deliberately gunned, the rear end did squat a bit. Driving through cobbled roads fails to upset the Passat’s near-excellent ride quality.
What could be improved upon, I feel, would be the NVH levels of the Volkswagen Passat. On stretches of roads that are less-than-perfect, the Continental rubbers did have a tendency of being rather noisy, regardless of size. With better roads, the Passat B8 offers a much quieter ride. In my humble opinion, a vehicle of this calibre should not ride as harshly as this on rougher surface, seeing that our local roads aren’t always perfect. I reckon that can be easily remedied with a new set of rubbers, preferably of a quieter rubber compound.
Elsewhere, the Passat Highline also features the Volkswagen Discover Navigation infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen display. The system features Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone connectivity, on top of the available navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. We managed to get Android Auto working, which is good news for tech savvy owners.
During the Q&A session, several members of the media did raise the issue of pricing, and how much would the Passat cost. VPCM says that prices are still being worked on, and we can hopefully expect an indicative pricing in the coming weeks prior to its launch.
Check out our earlier impressions of the Passat B8 below!